Kansas: Its Interior and Exterior Life by Sara Robinson



ON the 19th of August another most brutal murder was committed near Leavenworth. A gentleman named Hops, from Griggsville, Ill., only six days in the territory, was shot and scalped by a man named Fugert, who belonged to Atchison's ruffian band encamped near Leavenworth. He had made a bet of six dollars against a pair of boots, that in less than two hours he would have an abolitionist's scalp. He returned to Lawrence, received the boots, and exhibited the scalp as a token of his prowess.

Mr. Hops had hired a house in Leavenworth, intending to locate there. He then brought his wife to Lawrence, to remain a few days with her sister, Mrs. Nute, wife of the Unitarian clergyman. Upon his return, within two miles of Leavenworth, the horrid deed was committed. It will be remembered that Fort Leavenworth, where United States troops are stationed, is only three miles distant. A German, who spoke freely of the atrocity of the deed, was shot upon the spot.

A day or two after, a young free-state lady, of Bloomington, was carried from her home a mile and a half, by four ruffians, her tongue drawn out of her mouth as far as possible, and cords tied tightly around it. Her arms were pinioned, and she was otherwise so wantonly abused, that for days her life was despaired of.

On the twenty-first, Woodson, declaring the territory in a state of insurrection, called out the militia. For several days Woodson, Jones, and others, at Lecompton, had been trying to induce Gov. Shannon to resign his office, as he would not call out the militia, that Woodson might do it. The ruffians were very loud in their praises of him, saying, "he was just the governor they wanted." The plan was to have a general war of extermination before Gov. Geary could arrive. Gov. Shannon, most urgently solicited, at length resigned the morning of the day his papers of dismissal came from Washington. He again asked for an escort from the territory; but the military officer declined, upon the plea that the free-state men had asked for an escort upon the same road, stating it was unsafe for them to travel, being infested by pro-slavery camps. The ex-governor's angry retort was, "Then, by G-d, I'll fight my way through!"

On the twenty-second, a party of Georgians made a descent upon the Quaker Mission in the Shawnee Reserve, plundering it of horses and other property, while they treated the people with barbarity.

On the twenty-third it was ascertained that Atchison's force, numbering four hundred and fifty men, were mustering at Little Santa Fe, on the border of Missouri, and about thirty-five miles from Lawrence, preparatory to another invasion of the territory. At Lawrence there were about two thousand people, men, women, and children. There was great scarcity of provisions, and not twenty sacks of flour in the whole town. People from the Big Stranger Creek, about half way between Lawrence and Leavenworth, had been driven from their claims, and in some instances both men and women had been most barbarously treated. It was considered unsafe to send teams for provisions past the camps of the ruffians. The route to Kansas city was also blockaded. Three times an escort had been asked of the highest officer in command, out of the fort, and three times been refused.

On the 24th of August, five of the citizens of Lawrence called upon Woodson. They found him in the tent of the officers in command of the troops. The committee stated that the people of Lawrence were out of provisions, that their roads were blockaded by armed mobs. They asked whether he intended to allow this overwhelming force to murder, burn, and pillage? He replied, "if the people of Lawrence would obey the laws, this thing (meaning the invasion) could be settled in five hours." C. W. Babcock then said, "Governor, are we to understand that your position is this: that if we obey the bogus laws, you will protect us with the whole force under your command (meaning the troops), and, if not, you will allow us to be murdered? Is that your position?" Woodson replied, "The laws must be obeyed, and writs executed." The committee concluded that they must depend wholly upon the strength of the free-state men, if Lawrence was attacked. Volunteers were continually arriving, and Lawrence again looked warlike. The forts built last winter were repaired, and new ones were built. Wheat and hay were carried in so near town that they could not be destroyed by the marauders. The wheat was ground as a substitute for fine flour, and many cattle were driven in near town. A strong guard was again placed around the town, while the scouting guard were on duty miles away. It was estimated that in twelve hours' time from fifteen hundred to two thousand men could be rallied to defend Lawrence.

On the twenty-fifth, Col. Cook, commandant at Fort Riley, arrived at the spot where Capt. Sackett was in charge of the state prisoners. He came with a large additional force, which numbered, with the companies called in from different parts of the territory, about five hundred troops. They had five pieces of artillery, and, as they came in over the hills to our quiet little camp, they looked quite formidable. The care of the prisoners at once devolved upon Col. Cook. He manifested the responsibility he felt by putting on an extra guard, with another to stand by to listen to conversation when any company was in the tents. Capt. Sackett, with thirty-five men, had found, for seven weeks, one guard all-sufficient for the protection of the prisoners. Col. Cook, with five hundred, must have felt strangely insecure.

On the twenty-seventh, Mr. Nute, with his widowed sister-in-law, and John Wilder, a merchant of Lawrence, with a number of teams for provisions, started for Leavenworth. They had been advised by the military commanders to attempt this journey. When near Leavenworth the whole party were captured by a band of ruffians under Capt. Emory. The body of Mr. Hops had been buried, by the troops, in Pilot Knob cemetery, and his widow was denied the consolation of looking upon his grave. After continued refusals by the ruffians, she at last succeeded in getting on board a boat bound down the Missouri. The others were retained as prisoners of war, and untold anxiety was felt for their safety.

When this intelligence reached Lawrence, G. W. Hutchinson, one of the merchants whose wagons had been taken, and Mr. Sutherland, the mail-carrier between Lawrence and Leavenworth, whose hack and driver were of the same number, were despatched to Woodson, also to Col. Cook, to inform them of the facts. Col. Cook could not move with his troops to Leavenworth without orders from Woodson. He advised these gentlemen to see Woodson. They went to Lecompton, and while in his office were taken prisoners by his brutal "militia," he offering no word of protest. When Col. Cook heard of this unprecedented outrage, he sent again and again to Woodson, demanding their release. His invariable reply was, "They were taken as spies, and we hold them as prisoners of war."

The same day eighty of the troops went to Lawrence under command of Deputy Marshal Newsem, who had rendered himself conspicuous by breaking open and searching the trunks of five free-state men on the road a few days before. He had a writ of replevin for a horse, and a writ of habeas corpus for a man who had been detained at Lawrence over night as a spy, but who had been released the same morning. He read his writ, signed by John P. Wood, Judge of Probate for Douglas County. It was directed to "James H. Lane," "the Safety Committee," and the people of "Lawrence generally." There was too large a share of the ridiculous in this parade of troops on so trivial a matter to occasion any show of dignity among the people at Lawrence. So the free-state boys laughed with the soldiers, and made sport of the simpleton who held the writ. When they left, the boys gave three cheers for the troops, and a groan for the official.

On the thirtieth, Saturday morning, about six o'clock, Frederic Brown, son of Capt. John Brown, walking on the road near his house, not far from Osawattomie, was shot by two scouts of the invaders. Two hours later, a force of three hundred men under Gen. Reed attacked Osawattomie. Seeing the vast superiority of numbers, Capt. Brown retreated with the small free-state party under his command, between thirty and forty men, to the timber on the river. The battle lasted several hours, until the ammunition of the little party gave out. They were then ordered to retreat to the river. The Missourians charged upon them with horses, and, being wholly undisciplined, came up in crowds, so that the sure aim of the little band in the woods thinned their ranks. The free-state party lost two men killed in the battle; one man murdered afterwards. As nearly as could be estimated, the enemy lost thirty-one killed, and thirty-two wounded. Three wagon loads of dead and wounded were taken from Osawattomie. After the battle the ruffians burned the town, between twenty and thirty houses and stores, and pilfered letters from the post-office, etc. They burned, also, the house of "Ottawa Jones," who had a fine residence half way between Lawrence and Osawattomie. This news being received at Lawrence, Gen. Lane with a strong force went out to meet Reid's army. He came near them at Bull Creek, and camped for a battle at sunrise on the morrow. In the night Reid's army retreated, and Gen. Lane drove them to Missouri.

This portion of the invaders had intended to march nearer Lawrence, and attack it upon one side, expecting to be reinforced by other parties gathered at Lecompton.

On the thirty-first, Sunday, p.m., a woman, residing a mile distant from the camp, came and reported to Col. Cook that some ruffians from Lecompton had gathered at her house, with threats to destroy it. He sent four soldiers back with her to guard it. After their arrival the party left. Mrs. H. gathered together some of her goods, and three small wagon loads were brought to her mother's near the camp. Some of the soldiers returned with the wagons. Soon after they started with the last load, about one hundred and fifty of these Missourians, under the lead of Dr. Stringfellow, appeared, and set the house on fire. They at first took the gun from the one soldier then there, but soon returned it. A few of them surrounded the wagon, and "ordered a surrender." But the woman with her escort came on to the camp. Soon the dense smoke arose over the hill, and the Missourians came up in sight of the camp, and formed in line of battle upon a very high point only a quarter of a mile distant. It looked like a defiance to the troops. Col. Cook with his officers stood by his tent, with a spy-glass, watching them. He was evidently surprised at the boldness of the movement.

Soon the bugle sounded for "boots and saddles," and the soldiers, with loud shouts, and on a full run, started for the horses. They thought they were to have the opportunity of driving off the Missourians. The colonel, being a Southerner, was annoyed by the shouting, and commanded them to be quiet. The Missourians soon left the hill, and the soldiers had their regular Sunday drill.

In a little time two more houses, a short distance away, were fired. Before sundown Deputy Marshal Cramer rode up to the officers' tent to say, that "the houses were set on fire by free-state men." Col. Cook quite indignantly replied, "I saw the smoke of the fire, as your men rode from it on to the hill."

The evening of the next day, five other houses of the settlers were burned, and another, around which the mob gathered, was saved by the lady of the house showing a paper which Marshal Donaldson had given them as a means of protection during the spring invasion. Most of the fires were seen at the camp. Some of the houses had been vacated, the families having gone to Lawrence for safety. The occupants of others were driven from their homes at midnight, only escaping with their lives. One woman, with a number of young children, whose husband could not remain with his family in safety, saved a few things by carrying them into the woods. The next day the house near the camp was full of these homeless ones. There were families without their natural protectors, because they had been previously driven from their homes. There were men, whose families had been removed to Lawrence a few days before, while they had remained at their houses attempting to get their goods ready to move, when they were obliged to fly. No free-state men could now travel between Lawrence and Lecompton. The man who carried meat to the camp daily was taken prisoner by Stringfellow and his scouting party, and retained in camp over night, notwithstanding he showed his contract with the quarter-master.

2d. -- Gen. Strickler of the territorial militia, with Cramer, called on Col. Cook. Cramer introduced the general. Col. Cook seemed to think it militated against his own dignity somewhat to be "ranked" by such a stripling, and he replied, "General?" Cramer said, "Yes," and the usual courtesies passed between them. Then Cramer said, "We want you to hold yourself in readiness to act when called upon; for there may a contingency arise when we shall need you." He also added that "Lane was cavorting around the territory."

Mrs. Jenkins, with a military escort, went to Lawrence on the second, for provisions for the prisoners. Upon her return, the next day, she passed through the most of the "territorial militia," about six miles from Lawrence. They were very free with their threats of the destruction of Lawrence; and swore it would be accomplished that night. Mrs. Jenkins met several free-state men, flying as fast as their horses would carry them, to notify Lawrence of the approach of the invaders. One of their scouts was sitting quietly in a ravine, eating a watermelon, before he noticed this force almost upon him. Quickly mounting his horse he sped towards Lawrence, while four of the invaders pursued him, continually firing. Three of the pursuers soon relinquished the chase, and he was able to outstrip the speed of the fourth.

Dr. Stringfellow was in bad repute with the other officers, as well as with the men. Many of them left when they found that house-burning was to be the principal work. One or two of the captains, on learning the true state of things, immediately left Lecompton, returning over the river.

On the fourth, Marshal Donaldson, and his deputies, Cramer and Newsem, took one hundred and sixty of the troops to Lawrence to arrest Lane, Walker, Grover, and others. They came back wholly unsuccessful. It seemed to be the impression at Lawrence that Lane was not a resident there, and the particular location of the house or boarding-place of others inquired for was not very clearly defined in the minds of those questioned.

The same day three men from Leavenworth, who had never taken any part in the free-state cause, attempted to go from Leavenworth to Lawrence. They were shot by the ruffians. Two were killed, and the other was supposed to be dead by the cruel men. With his head awfully mangled, by the aid of a Delaware Indian, he reached Lawrence. Sicoxie, chief of the Delawares, on the 4th, sent to the camp for troops to protect them from the continual robberies and depredations of the marauders. Captain Sackett, with his company, was sent out. The bodies of the two murdered men were buried by them.

On the same day one hundred and fifty men were ordered to cross the Kansas river, and march upon the north side as far as Lecompton. They arrived at this point about dark. Colonel Harvey so arranged his men that it would have been impossible for a much larger force than his to retreat past them. They lay all night upon their arms, in one of the most violent storms of the season, hungry and supperless. The confusion, the next morning, in Lecompton, was unprecedented even there. Many of the Missourians, who had come to quell "outrages and disturbances by the abolitionists" upon the pro-slavery settlers, finding these acts perpetrated by the "law-and-order" party, were disgusted and sick of "the wars." Wishing to go home to Missouri, they found their retreat cut off. About four o'clock, p.m., Gen. Lane had taken possession of the hill overlooking Lecompton, and the foundation of the capitol, which was used by the enemy as a fortress. He had planted two pieces of artillery, before any intimation had been given in Lecompton of the approach of "Lane's army."

Three messengers from Lecompton, to Col. Cook, followed each other in quick succession. They reported one thousand men about to attack Lecompton. There was soon an unusual stir in the camp. The different bugles sounded, and, in just thirty-five minutes after, the troops began to move towards Lecompton; not in a body, but at the earliest moment each company was ready. The artillery went out, mingling its deafening sound of heavy metal with that of iron hoofs, and the clanking of the sabres of their riders.

Mr. Branscomb and Capt. Cline had been deputed by Gen. Lane to go into Lecompton and make a demand of all prisoners there. They rode in, bearing a flag of truce, and halted before the fort. The following conversation was held:

Mr. Branscomb: "Who has command of the forces here assembled?"

Several voices: "General Richardson."

"Can I see General Richardson?"

Here General Richardson stepped forward and bowed.

"General Richardson, are you in command of the forces here assembled?"

"Well, I don't know as I am."

An individual here stepped forward, and inquired as follows: "General Richardson, do you still retain the command?"

"No, I suppose not; I resigned this morning," was the reply.

This individual then turned to Messrs. Branscomb and Cline; and said, "I am in command of the forces here assembled, and am ready to receive any proposition."

Mr. Branscomb: "Who are you, sir?"

Individual: "I am General Marshall."

"I am directed by General Lane, commander of the free-state forces of Kansas, to demand of you the unconditional and immediate release of all the free-state prisoners now in Lecompton."

General Marshall: "We wish to make no compromises with General Lane, only that he shall treat our prisoners as kindly and courteously as we treat his."

"Do I understand you to refuse to surrender the prisoners demanded?"

"Such is the understanding."

Messrs. Branscomb and Cline were about to return to General Lane's lines, when General Marshall requested them to wait a few minutes. They did so. After a private consultation with some others, the general returned, and gave Mr. Branscomb the strange intelligence that all the prisoners demanded had been released that morning, and that provision had been made to obtain an escort of United States dragoons to attend them to Lawrence the next day. He then told him that he made a demand on General Lane for all the pro-slavery prisoners which had been taken, and asked Mr. Branscomb to state the demand. This ended the interview.

Colonel Cook reached Lane's lines about the time the messengers to Lecompton got back. Colonel Cook said to General Lane and his staff, "Gentlemen, you have made a great mistake in coming here to-day. The territorial militia was dismissed this morning; some of them have left, some are leaving now, and the rest will leave and go to their homes as soon as they can." Mr. Parrott, of Leavenworth city, who was twice sent down the river by the ruffians, replied to him as follows: "Colonel Cook, when we send a man, or two men, or a dozen men, to speak with the territorial authorities, they are arrested and held like felons. How, then, are we to know what is going on in Lecompton? Why, we have to come here with an army to find out what is going on. How else could we know?" To this, Col. Cook made no reply.

The prisoners came over to the camp at evening, and, under military escort, went to Lawrence the next day. Gen. Richardson, of the "Kansas militia," made a visit in Lawrence. He was received kindly by General Lane, who escorted him on his way to Franklin. He stated "he was on his way to disperse the Missourians who were coming into the territory."

A lady from Leavenworth, about this time, having, a brother at Lawrence, succeeded in getting through to the latter place. She walked the entire distance, thirty-five miles, and, by prudence, eluded the watchfulness of the enemy.

For some weeks mob-law had raged at Leavenworth. Hordes of the vilest of the Missourians were continually crossing the river into the city. On the first of September a municipal election was to be held. Capt. Emory, the mail agent, at the head of one hundred ruffians, drove from the city all free-state men, declaring, that "all who did not leave should be killed."

They attacked the house of William Phillips, a lawyer of Leavenworth. Knowing that it was their intention to murder him, he told them "he should defend his home," and, as they rushed upon him, he drew his revolver and killed two of them, when he was pierced with a dozen bullets, and died instantly. The brother of Mr. Phillips had his arm badly shattered. Some buildings owned by Mr. P. were burned; also some others. On the Saturday before, and during the night, also, the excitement was intense. The groceries were continually frequented, and the firing of guns was incessant. All of Sunday night companies of thirty or forty men went over the whole city, crying, at the top of their voices, for "all who would not take up arms to enforce the territorial laws, to leave the territory immediately, or suffer the consequences."

On the first of September, about fifty of the inhabitants were obliged, by Capt. Emory and his band, to take passage on the Polar Star for St. Louis. The next day eight hundred men, commanded by Capt. Emory, paraded on the levee in front of the Emma. Capt. E. ordered the captain of the boat not to leave the landing until he gave directions. Then, at the point of the bayonet, were men, women, and children, more than one hundred in number, driven, like cattle, from their homes, to satisfy yet further this guilty administration. Men of property were obliged thus to leave it to the mercy of the mob; and, in some instances, had not means with them to pay their passage to St. Louis. The goods of some of the merchants, together with ten thousand dollars' worth in the warehouses, for traders in Lawrence, were confiscated by the ruffians. In many instances they laid aside their shabby and soiled garments, and were loud in their praise of the excellent fits they found among the clothing designed for merchants in Lawrence. No free-state man dared venture in the streets of Leavenworth. Many fled into the bushes and escaped to the fort. Thirty or more families found safety there.

When the fourteen prisoners at Lecompton were released, Rev. Mr. Nute, and Mr. Wilder, about whom great anxiety had been felt, were discovered not to be among them. Col. Cook provided Mr. Whitman, Mr. Sutherland, and Mr. Wilder, father of young Wilder, an escort, in Sergeant Cary, to go to Leavenworth to attempt their release, if they were there. Within a short distance of the town, after passing several picket guards, they were taken prisoners by Capt. Emory's band. After a little consultation, the leaders concluded it was advisable to release Sergeant Cary. Riding post-haste, he reached the fort and stated the facts. Soon there was a bustle among the soldiers, and two hundred of them marched to Leavenworth. Two hours later, they returned, bringing in Capt. Emory's band of thirty horsemen, with the three gentlemen last taken prisoners in the rear.

Mr. Nute and Mr. Wilder had been released that morning. They had been, for a part of the time, imprisoned in a seven-by-nine stone building with grated windows. There was not an article of furniture in the room.

In such a place, without ventilation, with thirteen others, they were kept one day, without anything to eat from early morning until five o'clock, p.m. Then, some dry bread and coffee were brought in. The prisoners said they could not eat without going into the fresh air; and, on being taken out doors, were scarcely able to stand from faintness.

Gov. Geary arrived at the fort on the morning of the ninth. He was there when Sergeant Cary reported his seizure by the ruffians. He declared that peace should be restored; that every one who was not an actual settler should be driven out; and that the rights of all men should be protected. To some officials under government, with whom he conversed on his way to the territory, he stated, as the urgent necessity for this peace, "the impossibility of carrying Pennsylvania for Buchanan without it."

Rev. Mr. Nute and friends reached Lawrence on the evening of the 10th. On the 6th September, Col. Cook's camp moved within a half mile of Lecompton. On the eighth, a number of the citizens of Lawrence came up to attend the trial of the state prisoners. No officer of the court could be found; neither judge, jury, clerk or marshal. The next day they appeared in Lecompton, and an attempt was made by the counsel for the government, C. H. Grover, to postpone the trials until April, alleging that the County of Douglas was in a state of insurrection, caused by the introduction of large bodies of armed men, whose purpose was to resist the laws of the territory; that jurors and witnesses were prevented from attending court thereby.

Mr. Branscomb and Mr. Parrott, counsel for the prisoners, opposed the motion. Mr. B. stated, the prisoners had been ready for trial the last term. They were ready now, and, as a right, they demanded an immediate trial. Although no summonses had been issued to jurors or witnesses, there were jurors present who would answer to their names, and there was no evidence before the court of such insurrection as the counsel for the government had stated, etc.

Mr. Grover, in reply, said, "he could bring any amount of proof of such insurrection. There was the London Times. The London Times said that not only Kansas, but the whole country, was in a state of insurrection."

Judge Lecompte overruled the motion, stating that there was not sufficient evidence before the court of such a state of insurrection as to deter witnesses and jurors from appearing.

The docket was then taken up. The first case called was, "The Territory of Kansas against Charles Robinson, for usurpation of office." The same reasons for continuance of this case were brought up by Mr. Grover. Also their witness, P. Hutchinson, who, they said, had been summoned, was not present. He is a man unknown to the prisoners, their counsel or friends never before having heard of him.

Judge Lecompte then gave his decision. He would continue the case on the ground of there being so great an excitement in the country as to prevent a fair trial. The prisoner was admitted to bail in the sum of five hundred dollars.

The other cases were then called, -- "The United States against Charles Robinson and others," -- and continued. The prisoners were released on bail of five thousand dollars each.

Judge Lecompte accepted the bail offered, and seemed anxious to get the cases off his hands.

John Brown, Jr., and H. H. Williams, who had never been indicted, were also released on one thousand dollars bail.

On the afternoon of the 10th September, just four months from the day my husband was taken prisoner, and nearly four months since the arrest of the others, the tents on "Traitor Avenue" were struck. Three wagons were filled with the furniture and valuables of the prisoners.

While all were getting ready, a party of us rode into Lecompton. It is a little town down in the ravines. The air was hot and stifling, and we wondered any one should locate a town there, when the breezes on the high grounds are so fresh and invigorating. There were two or three tents still standing, the remnant of the invaders' camp. Everything was quiet, and perfectly dull. With two carriages of gentlemen, which came from Lawrence in the morning to attend the court, the ambulance, and two others under military escort, we left for Lawrence. Within a mile of the town, the "Stubs" were waiting to welcome us. Soon after, we were met by Gen. Lane and his staff, who led the way into Massachusetts-street, where crowd of people had gathered to greet their long-absent townsmen.

My husband made them a short speech. In the evening the people had a jubilee of rejoicing, and short speeches from several of the prisoners. The arrival of Mr. Nute and fellow-prisoners, the same evening, added not a little to the enthusiasm of the hour.

On the fourteenth of September a new invasion was made against Lawrence. Gov. Geary was notified of the fact, and he commanded their dispersion. They burned several houses, and the saw-mill in Franklin, and drove off two hundred head of horses and cattle.

A part of the same force passed up to Lecompton on the sixteenth, and killed David Buffum, a reliable free-state man, the same who brought the little howitzer into Lawrence, during the fall invasion, by singular skill and bravery.

Rumors having come into Lawrence of the invaders committing depredations on the northern part of the territory, by the advice of Gov. Geary's friend, a few men were sent to drive them out. On their way back to Lawrence, they were taken prisoners and carried to Lecompton, where they have since been retained. The horses of free-state men are being taken by the other party, under forms of law, and the system of robbery and outrage has received no check.

Two gentlemen, new-comers in the territory, on the twenty-second were taken from the stage, as they were passing from Lawrence to Kansas city, and one is still missing.

The promised peace has not yet come to Kansas. Hopefully the settlers have waited for it; but their hope in the present administration has turned to despair. With many fears, and many sufferings before them in the cold months coming they still look forward to a day of deliverance when the genial breath of spring shall have melted winter's icy bands, and the new reign of peace and righteous laws takes the place of oppression and tyranny.

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